On Sunday, we made yarn hearts, which we turned into a mobile to hang in our church foyer. They are a reminder to share God's amazing LOVE with ALL we meet.
We heard the story, Time to Go, Hippo, written by Bob Hartman and illustrated by Kate Simpson. Just how do you deal with a big, bumpy, powerful grey monster with stomping feet, chomping teeth and a fearsome and SMELLY roar?
Well, the farmers tried charging at it with their wheat-thrashers, rat-smashers and potato-mashers; the soldiers attacked it with their catapults and battering rams... but that didn't work. The hippo just watched them, went on calmly chewing his way through their vegetable patch and ROARED his great, smelly roar at them.
The old man, Barnabas knew. You'll have to find the story and read it for yourself to hear HOW he did it. But... it wasn't by charging or attacking or trying to scare the animal away. Barnabas watched and listened. He talked to the hippo. He said sorry for the way the people had treated him. He explained that we are all God's creatures, and that it is important to get along. Finally, he gave the hippo an onion (he had learned by watching the hippo that hippos love onions). "Something I would never have learned by chasing them away," he said. The old man befriended the hippo.
We talked about how hard it can be sometimes, to make that decision to befriend someone - if it is someone we wouldn't normally hang around with. Maybe it's the new kid at school, perhaps it's someone nobody else plays with, it could be someone who's a bit different or seems a little scary. But, God is with us as we make those hard choices, and God really wants us to show His amazing LOVE and KINDNESS to others, ESPECIALLY when it's hard.
It's pretty difficult to get to know someone if we're always chasing them away, or ignoring them. If we could be like the character of old Barnabas in the story, and make time to really listen and learn about the other person, let them know we see them, we hear them... and we care. And who knows...we could make a new friend! (Although, perhaps leave the raw onions at home!)